After creating the iconic cafe for Series 1, we were faced with a huge dilemma for Series 2.
The cafe was in the process of undergoing a major re-fit and was completely gutted. Worse still, the restaurant was due to be finished just as we needed to start shooting. So we toyed with the idea of a script change that would have had Fleabag updating her cafe to something a bit more normal.
But ultimately, we all felt that the Guinea Pig cafe was as much part of Fleabag’s world as she was, and so we even considered a set build in a studio.
Once the shoot started, we still hadn’t decided which way to go, but we heard that their re-fit was running way behind schedule. At that point I decided to pay them a visit late one evening after a long shoot day, to see how the restaurant was looking.
When I got there, I was a bit disturbed to find a gutted empty shell of a building, but miraculously, the outside frontage hadn’t been touched.
And so the idea of turning it back to how it was, for a few short days, started to seem like a pretty decent idea.
The owners would need to be on board to hold up their builders for a week, but that felt like a possibility. And so I got measuring and sketching, and went away, with a telephone call to the Producer, and emails to the Director to put forward my plan.
There was a bit of scepticism, because the counter area was completely ripped out, and so we would only be able to effectively shoot in one direction, but everybody jumped on board to get re-creating the cafe.
About a week later, carpenters went in, and we set about building a set within the shell, and once that was done we dressed the set with as many items as we had stored from series 1 (the tables and chairs belonged to the previous restaurant, but had long since gone, so we had to hire as close to the original as we could)
And the next day, the shooting crew arrived, and we all felt like we’d come back to visit an old friend.
It was a real joy to recreate a space we all thought had long since gone, and Phoebe’s delight at returning to her old cafe was a great reward.
We were only there a few days, and then we pulled it all out, and left it as the shell I had found a few weeks before. Fleeting moments of joyful memories and nostalgia.